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Pope Francis: Homily at the final Mass of the Synod – Full text

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In his homily during the concluding Mass for the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis speaks about three fundamental stesps on the journey of faith.

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

Final Mass of the Synod

28 October 208

 

The account we have just heard is the last of those that the evangelist Mark relates about the itinerant ministry of Jesus, who is about to enter Jerusalem to die and to rise.  Bartimaeus is thus the last of those who follow Jesus along the way: from a beggar along the road to Jericho, he becomes a disciple who walks alongside the others on the way to Jerusalem.  We too have walked alongside one another; we have been a “synod”.  This Gospel seals three fundamental steps on the journey of faith.

First, let us consider Bartimaeus.  His name means “son of Timaeus”.  That is how the Gospel describes him: “Bartimaeus son of Timaeus” (Mk 10:46).  Yet, oddly, his father is nowhere to be found.  Bartimaeus lies alone on the roadside, far from home and fatherless.  He is not loved, but abandoned.  He is blind and has no one to listen to him.  Jesus hears his plea.  When he goes to him, he lets him speak.  It was not hard to guess what Bartimaeus wanted: clearly, a blind person wants to see or regain his sight.  But Jesus takes his time; he takes time to listen.  This is the first step in helping the journey of faith: listening.  It is the apostolate of the ear: listening before speaking.

Instead, many of those with Jesus ordered Bartimaeus to be quiet (cf. v. 48).  For such disciples, a person in need was a nuisance along the way, unexpected and unplanned.  They preferred their own timetable above that of the Master, their own talking over listening to others.  They were following Jesus, but they had their own plans in mind.  This is a risk constantly to guard against.  Yet, for Jesus, the cry of those pleading for help is not a nuisance but a challenge.  How important it is for us to listen to life!  The children of the heavenly Father are concerned with their brothers and sisters, not with useless chatter, but with the needs of their neighbours.  They listen patiently and lovingly, just as God does to us and to our prayers, however repetitive they may be.  God never grows tired; he is always happy when we seek him.  May we too ask for the grace of a heart that listens.  I would like to say to the young people, in the name of all of us adults: forgive us if often we have not listened to you, if, instead of opening our hearts, we have filled your ears.  As Christ’s Church, we want to listen to you with love, certain of two things: that your lives are precious in God’s eyes, because God is young and loves young people, and that your lives are precious in our eyes too, and indeed necessary for moving forward.

After listening, a second step on the journey of faith is to be a neighbour.  Let us look at Jesus: he does not delegate someone from the “large crowd” following him, but goes personally to meet Bartimaeus.  He asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 51).  What do you want… –  Jesus is completely taken up with Bartimaeus; he does not try to sidestep him.  …me to do – not simply to speak, but to do something.  …for you – not according to my own preconceived ideas, but for you, in your particular situation.  That is how God operates.  He gets personally involved with preferential love for every person.  By his actions, he already communicates his message.  Faith thus flowers in life.

Faith passes through life.  When faith is concerned purely with doctrinal formulae, it risks speaking only to the head without touching the heart.  And when it is concerned with activity alone, it risks turning into mere moralizing and social work.  Faith, instead, is life: it is living in the love of God who has changed our lives.  We cannot choose between doctrine and activism.  We are called to carry out God’s work in God’s own way: in closeness, by cleaving to him, in communion with one another, alongside our brothers and sisters.  Closeness: that is the secret to communicating the heart of the faith, and not a secondary aspect.

Being a neighbour means bringing the newness of God into the lives of our brothers and sisters.  It serves as an antidote to the temptation of easy answers and fast fixes.  Let us ask ourselves whether, as Christians, we are capable of becoming neighbours, stepping out of our circles and embracing those who are not “one of us”, those whom God ardently seeks.  A temptation so often found in the Scriptures will always be there: the temptation to wash our hands.  That is what the crowd does in today’s Gospel.  It is what Cain did with Abel, and Pilate with Jesus: they washed their hands.  But we want to imitate Jesus and, like him, to dirty our hands.  He is the way (cf. Jn 14:6), who stopped on the road for Bartimaeus.  He is the light of the world (cf. Jn 9:5), who bent down to help a blind man.  Let us realize that the Lord has dirtied his hands for each one of us.  Let us look at the cross, start from there and remember that God became my neighbour in sin and death.  He became my neighbour: it all starts from there.  And when, out of love of him, we too become neighbours, we become bringers of new life.  Not teachers of everyone, not specialists in the sacred, but witnesses of the love that saves.

The third step is to bear witness.  Let us consider the disciples who, at Jesus’ request, called out to Bartimaeus.  They do not approach a beggar with a coin to shut him up, or to dispense advice.  They go in Jesus’ name.  Indeed, they only say three words to him, and all three are words of Jesus: “Take heart; get up, he is calling you” (v. 49).  Everywhere else in the Gospel, Jesus alone says, “Take heart”, for he alone “heartens” those who heed him.  In the Gospel, Jesus alone says, “Get up”, and heals in spirit and body.  Jesus alone calls, transforming the lives of those who follow him, helping raise up the fallen, bringing God’s light to the darkness of life.  So many children, so many young people, like Bartimaeus, are looking for light in their lives.  They are looking for true love.  And like Bartimaeus who in the midst of that large crowd called out to Jesus alone, they too seek life, but often find only empty promises and few people who really care.

It is not Christian to expect that our brothers and sisters who are seekers should have to knock on our doors; we ought to go out to them, bringing not ourselves but Jesus.  He sends us, like those disciples, to encourage others and to raise them up in his name.  He sends us forth to say to each person: “God is asking you to let yourself be loved by him”.  How often, instead of this liberating message of salvation, have we brought ourselves, our own “recipes” and “labels” into the Church!  How often, instead of making the Lord’s words our own, have we peddled our own ideas as his word!  How often do people feel the weight of our institutions more than the friendly presence of Jesus!  In these cases, we act more like an NGO, a state-controlled agency, and not the community of the saved who dwell in the joy of the Lord.

To listen, to be a neighbour, to bear witness.  The journey of faith in today’s Gospel ends in a beautiful and surprising way when Jesus says “Go; your faith has made you well” (v. 52).  Yet Bartimaeus had made no profession of faith or done any good work; he had only begged for mercy.  To feel oneself in need of salvation is the beginning of faith.  It is the direct path to encountering Jesus.  The faith that saved Bartimaeus did not have to do with his having clear ideas about God, but in his seeking him and longing to encounter him.  Faith has to do with encounter, not theory.  In encounter, Jesus passes by; in encounter, the heart of the Church beats.  Then, not our preaching, but our witness of life will prove effective.

To all of you who have taken part in this “journey together”, I say “thank you” for your witness.  We have worked in communion, with frankness and the desire to serve God’s people.  May the Lord bless our steps, so that we can listen to young people, be their neighbours, and bear witness before them to Jesus, the joy of our lives.

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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